The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services filed a fifth lawsuit in Flathead County District Court on Tuesday, again asking the court to force a business to comply with Gov. Steve Bullock’s directive that requires face coverings be worn at indoor public spaces in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Tuesday’s filing — which is nearly identical to ones filed against Sykes Diner, Remington Bar, Ferndale Market and Your Lucky Turn Casino on Oct. 23 — accuses Scotty’s Bar and Casino in Kalispell of flouting the mask directive. Three inspectors from DPHHS went to Scotty’s on Tuesday, Oct. 20 and observed that customers and employees were not wearing masks, and that seating at the bar was not appropriately distanced. They also saw a large sign hanging just inside the doors that read “Masks are not required” and listed some of the exceptions to the mask directive.
Additionally, the court filing indicates the inspectors left the bar after “a patron began aggressively questioning (them)” and one of the inspectors reported they “had to rush out of the bar” at that time.
The filing asks District Court Judge Robert Allison to issue a temporary restraining order prevent Scotty’s from operating until it comes into compliance with the mask directive. In the other four cases, an immediate injunction was denied and hearings were set for early November to consider the state’s action.
Last week, DPHHS spokesman Jon Ebelt said the state would “immediately end proceedings against any business that comes into compliance” but did not offer specifics on what shape compliance could take. As of Oct. 27, all five cases remain active.
Attorneys for DPHHS on Tuesday also asked that the five cases be consolidated. That request was denied.
Gov. Bullock first teased the five lawsuits on a conference call with reporters on Oct. 22. At the time, he said that five Flathead businesses found to be “egregious violators” of the mask directive would be targeted.
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